Can a hungry Mali turn rice technology into ‘white gold’?

Mali farmers are looking at new ways of increasing the yield from the staple rice crop. (AFP)
Updated 20 October 2018
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Can a hungry Mali turn rice technology into ‘white gold’?

  • Malians are cautiously turning to a controversial farming technique to adapt to the effects of climate change
  • Dubbed the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), the new method was pioneered in Madagascar in 1983

BAGUINEDA: When rice farmers started producing yields nine times larger than normal in the Malian desert near the famed town of Timbuktu a decade ago, a passerby could have mistaken the crop for another desert mirage.
Rather, it was the result of an engineering feat that has left experts in this impoverished nation in awe — but one that has yet to spread widely through Mali’s farming community.
“We must redouble efforts to get political leaders on board,” said Djiguiba Kouyaté, a coordinator in Mali for German development agency GIZ.
With hunger a constant menace, Malians are cautiously turning to a controversial farming technique to adapt to the effects of climate change.

 

Dubbed the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), the new method was pioneered in Madagascar in 1983. It involves planting fewer seeds of traditional rice varieties and taking care of them following a strict regime.
Seedlings are transplanted at a very young age and spaced widely. Soil is enriched with organic matter, and must be kept moist, though the system uses less water than traditional rice farming.
Up to 20 million farmers now use SRI in 61 countries, including in nearby Sierra Leone, Senegal and Ivory Coast, said Norman Uphoff, of the SRI International Network and Resources Center at Cornell University in the US.
But, despite its success, the technique has been embraced with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Uphoff said that is because it competes with the improved hybrid and inbred rice varieties that agricultural corporations sell.
For Faliry Boly, who heads a rice-growing association, the prospect of rice becoming a “white gold” for Mali should spur on authorities and farmers to adopt rice intensification.
The method could increase yields while also offering a more environmentally-friendly alternative, including by replacing chemical fertilizers with organic ones, he said.
He also pointed out that rice intensification naturally lends itself to Mali’s largely arid climate.

FASTFACTS

Up to 20 million farmers now use rice intensification in 61 countries, including in nearby Sierra Leone, Senegal and Ivory Coast.


Oman regulator suspends KPMG from new auditing work over ‘irregularities’

Updated 14 November 2018
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Oman regulator suspends KPMG from new auditing work over ‘irregularities’

  • In Oman, KPMG is banned for one year from doing new auditing work for companies regulated by the CMA
  • It is another setback for KPMG, which is under scrutiny after losing clients in South Africa following its role in a high-profile corruption scandal there

DUBAI: Oman’s securities regulator said on Wednesday it has suspended audit firm KPMG from doing new work for a year after finding major financial and accounting irregularities at some listed companies.
The Capital Market Authority (CMA) took corrective steps at those companies to protect investors, it said in a statement without naming the firms or giving other details.
A review by the CMA “established professional negligence on the part of some audit firms that warranted disciplinary measures against them in the interests of the investors and other stakeholders,” the CMA said.
It is another setback for KPMG, which is under scrutiny after losing clients in South Africa following its role in a high-profile corruption scandal there and has faced investigations in Britain over its auditing of some clients.
In Oman, KPMG is banned for one year from doing new auditing work for companies regulated by the CMA, including listed companies, securities firms and insurers.
The penalty does not affect projects where KPMG has already been appointed, and KPMG has a right to appeal against the penalty before an independent authority, the CMA said.
KPMG said it could not immediately comment on the CMA’s statement.